Muhammad Ali, one of the most influential sports figures in the 20th century, has passed at the age of 74 in Phoenix, U.S., a family spokesman has confirmed to media.
A boxing legend, Ali won the heavyweight title three times and was known for his unorthodox fighting style merging power and agility. Off the ring, he was famous throughout the globe for his charismatic personality, as well as social and political activism.
“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening,” family spokesman Bob Gunnell told NBC News.
In 1967, three years after he won his first title, Ali refused to be drafted during the Vietnam War even though he registered for military service, presenting himself as a conscientious objector. Ali was stripped of his title, had his boxing license suspended, and a court found him guilty of draft evasion. His conviction was eventually reversed by the Supreme Court.
As the tide turned and public opinion shifted on the war, Ali became a spokesman for the anti-war sentiment, giving speeches at universities across the United States, even as he became increasingly active in the Civil Rights movement.
A convert to Islam, Ali advocated religious freedom. Initially a member of the Nation of Islam movement, which combined elements of religion and African American political activism, Ali converted to Sunni Islam after falling out with the group in 1975.
Ali leaves behind his wife Lonnie, seven daughters and two sons, as well as a legacy likely to remain unmatched as a boxer and world-renowned public figure.